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India to have new system for hassle-free entry of air passengers

Long queues at the immigration counters in international airports in India, especially in metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai, could become a thing of the past when a new system is introduced later this year…

Long queues at the immigration counters in international airports in India, especially in metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai, could become a thing of the past when a new system is introduced later this year to provide hassle-free entry to foreign and Indian passengers coming from abroad.



Following persistent demands by Tourism and Civil Aviation Ministries, the Home Ministry has issued a notification to introduce the `Advanced Passenger Information System` (APIS) from Oct 1, the Press Trust of India reported Sunday, quoting official sources.



Under the scheme, passenger manifest would be sent by the airlines to the immigration authorities in India as soon as a flight takes off for an Indian destination. This could help pre-checking of the passengers and their faster clearance even before the flight lands in the country.



The move is part of the overall efforts to enhance facilitation to foreign tourists, including the recently-launched `Swagat Seva` pilot project at Delhi`s IGI Airport.



The authorities are also planning to have separate counters for Indian passport holders returning from abroad.



Tourism Minister Renuka Chowdhury has taken up the issue with the Home Ministry and has held several rounds of meetings also with her Civil Aviation counterpart Praful Patel.



Moves are also afoot to integrate the passport, visa and immigration services in a gradual manner, the sources said.



All these steps together would reduce the immigration clearance time and ensure better security checks.



Training programme for immigration officials have already been initiated to enable them provide service with a smile without compromising security, they said.



There are about 67 immigration checkposts (ICPs) in the country at 22 airports, 30 land ports and 15 sea ports. The Bureau of Immigration controls these posts at Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Amritsar, Wagah and Attari.



The hardware to provide expeditious immigration clearance has been upgraded at Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore airports and work was in the process of completion at Kolkata, Mumbai, Goa, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode, Ahmedabad airports, the sources said.



Passport reading machines are to be installed at Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata, as also in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode in a phased manner.



The future plans of the government include introduction of bio-metric smart cards for frequent flyers. These cards, which would have information about the passenger on the chips, would be issued to Indian nationals.



The smart card holders would be able to pass through the immigration counters without human intervention as all the information would be immediately available on the cards, the sources said.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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